Kelvin Dickens, who works for Verizon, lives in Coram with his girlfriend and children.
How did you get into cooking?
I started out cooking in general when I was in the Marine Corps. I visited different countries and got interested in the cooking in those places. I did some catering for a while. I’ve been organizing my recipes to maybe write a cookbook. I have a little bit of everything — chicken, pork, beef, 5-ingredient recipes. I just made gumbo last weekend and my family was very happy.
How did you get into competitive barbecue?
When I’d barbecue, people told me I should compete, so I tried that a couple of years ago. I’ve stayed close to home so far, mostly on Long Island. There’s a competition in Staten Island every year, one in Connecticut. I’ve come in top 10 in quite a few categories. The barbecue community is very friendly. They’ll give you the shirt off their back, even if they’ll never give you a recipe. I joined the Brethren, an online barbecue forum that has evolved into an organization with different regional groups. There’s a Long Island group, and we get together to do volunteer work. We’ve cooked for 1,000 people for the VA hospital. We’ve cooked at the Ronald McDonald House. We do volunteer work during the year. You run into fellow contestants, judges, contest organizers, doing the volunteer work.
Can you reveal the secrets of your famous smoked turkey?
I can give you part of it. I brine it in cranberry juice. It gives it a fruity undernote.
Any tips for success with this pork chop recipe?
It’s very easy. I just threw it together one day when I was hungry. But I realized it was a favorite when I was organizing my recipes for my cookbook project. If you have the time you can brine the pork chops in advance. I have a brown sugar brine that I usually use for pork. Brining makes it almost impossible to overcook the chops and dry them out.
— LAUREN CHATTMAN